Link Analysis Using Competitors Websites

On 3 occasions last month our SEO Liverpool blog was asked how to obtain quality links.

This is an interesting question, what is a quality link? We think the evaluation of potential links and finding those that are causing harm, are the most important factors when understanding which links can provide value.

We all know the Panda and Penguin updates have focused link-builders on link quality, this means we should really be evaluating all potential links!

I thought I’d post a little on how and which links you should evaluate from your competitors websites, so you better understand strategy and improve your link profile.

Choose your competitors

It’s probably the hardest start to make, all you know so far is that a particular competitor pops up in your space. This can either be in terms of products and services or keywords. I usually choose 5 competitors based on keywords and 5 on comparative services.

Find your link analysis tool of choice.

I’m a fan of the Open Site Explorer, but it can be a bit costly! I have been known to use software such as link-assist.  The standard wisdom states that you should look at your competitors results for followed links and 301 redirects. Obviously, these are great, but I like to download every links and evaluate them.

You can get a better feel for the strategy they use to generate links, or they may have lots of websites that you can easily post on too.

Check The Status Codes

You want the best links and at the very least to replicate those of your competitors. Adopt and adapt is the best policy, but for now we’re concerned with not getting the same rubbish links that all websites can accumulate.  Eliminate from your list all those links that are corrupt, 404, 302 or any other you think are suspicious. I have used screaming frog for this in the past, but their are plenty of other ways to this simply and manually.

Another review

Cross off the links you’ve found that already link to you. So you should only now have good links, that are functioning and are followed

Establish a base

Set a benchmark of those links that are a) very valuable b) could be difficult to achieve c) bread and butter. What I mean by this is have an overall score e.g for Page Authority, Google Cache frequency or at the least PageRank use a tool that evaluates the page in SEO terms.

Now rank them in order of importance and attainability.

Manually review

For each link, give the PageRank score, detail the type of site, links out and domain age.

Go Get Them then rinse and repeat with other competitors

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SEO Alternatives To Guest Blogging

As Summit Online Marketing and running the SEO Liverpool blog, we get numerous requests to guest blog. I’m not adverse to this, but sometime you simply can’t make the time.

We always stress to our clients the value of guest blogging and gaining reciprocal links for contributors, but I thought we’d give you another way to get bloggers onside.

Blogger Events

How

Hold an event for influential bloggers you’ve either found on twitter via followerwonk or those you’ve previously identified. If your website is about fashion, then it’s simple. If you’re trying to get content for an accountancy practice, then you’d need to pick a theme. e.g. Starting your business and financial forecasting or new business start up guide in 10 easy steps.

Note: It’s important to get a couple of details right, such as an appropriate time and the venue to meet.

You need to get the word out, choose an appropriate medium to inform your prospective bloggers and get them to spread the word to the community.

Whats the Offer

You need an appropriate offer for the prospective bloggers audience. Discounts, free space, promo-code, a gift, or a draw with a valuable prize … whatever! If it’s a seminar the accountancy company is running for small businesses, grant them free entry. Offer your bloggers free infographics to add to their posts or at least some stock images.

You can offer the bloggers a discount just for mentioning your businesses name, but the readers will need something else to sweeten the deal. You’ve added creditability and drawn in a bigger audience using the bloggers, but what does the prospective customer get out of it. It’s not the bloggers or our responsibility to sign up clients, it’s all about harvesting data, get social links from readers or simply generate a ‘buzz’ about the event

Seminars

If you’re an accountancy firm, and you want new self employed clients, the blogging will serve to promote the event. Give each blogger an individual product code and link to event invitation in the post.

From this you can monitor which blogger brought the most people and reward them appropriately.

The seminar needs to benefit the prospective clients, give away lots of good free information.

Tip At the presentation, you can offer them more free business tips if they friend your business on FaceBook or Google +

Regular Contact.

You should have blog posts written promoting your event, you’ll get bums on seats or at least email data from prospects requesting information… but that shouldn’t be the end of it. It is always good practice to keep in touch with those bloggers and offer little gifts or at least invite them round for a few free drinks.

Try it

 

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WordPress Plugins We Use

As our readers can probably guess this is another subject we receive lots of email on. Let me be clear, with most emails that ask about our preferences, they won’t be to everybody’s tastes. Here are a just a few WordPress plugins we recommend and use here at SEO Liverpool

Akismet Key

I’m sure you’re aware of the great scourge of the digital age… Spam. If you have a comment section on your website/blog, and don’t have effective blocking and sorting then you could be getting hundreds of spam emails notifications each day. This plugin, which is already pre semi-installed on most WordPress blogs is an excellent deterrent. So if you’re receiving lots of spam notifications, it’s certainly worth giving it a whirl

All in one SEO Pack

Every page and every post needs its own meta data, this simple and effective plugin gives you that. I’ve always found this tool basic but effective. This SEO plugin may not be Yoast, but it doesn’t need to be. It gives you the ability to set core homepage meta and various other functions that you may or may not find useful. It also allows an upgrade to professional with even more features.

Google +1 Button or Simple Social- Sharing widgets & Icons

You can use these to make sure you’ve got all the social buttons you need. To be honest, I sometimes think you can overload your readers with vast amounts of social buttons. If you feel the readership only needs a couple of the more popular such as twitter and Google +, you can add and subtract as appropriate. The style, layout and location are also adaptive with this useful tool.

UK Cookie Consent

A very simple plugin that lets you add the comply with UK legislation around cookie consent. It links to a prepackaged  policy page and has a visible bar at the top of your landing page that explains to visitors its purpose. This isn’t an option UK sites, this is Law. Make sure you have this plugin or one like it installed.

Google Analytics for WordPress

Very self explanatory, this will help you to add GA code to your websites. If you don’t know the importance of a plugin like this then get reading. This plugin will help you simply instal Google Analytics without editing a template or having FTP access. Very useful to the novice WordPress fan.

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PPC Landing Page Essentials

In the last two months, we’ve never had so many calls regarding optimising existing Pay Per Click (PPC) Campaigns.

After analysis, these campaigns may not be set out how we’d like, ads might look a little wooly to us, but on the whole they’re in good shape.  The commonality amongst them, is the lack of good landing pages.

This SEO Liverpool post is about educating our readers on important landing page elements that will provide a good conversion benefit. Obviously, some elements are subjective but we feel those identified below are very important.

Elements Of A Good Landing Page

High Quality Product Images (Product Zoom And Multiple Views).

This is a simple win. As with most elements of design, consistency is the key. If you’re trying to imply trust, then product image resolutions are important. Background colour consistency, is the most noticeable, get this right and the page will look professional. If you’re selling a product that has small details or maybe the image size is small, then product zoom is also a good idea. If the product looks different from the back, or side, then you should have multiple images.

Product Demonstration Videos

These can be an excellent way not only to get across information in an easy to digest way, but also help monitor customer engagement. A video of instruction, with the odd testimonial and user experience thrown in, will speak volumes.

Calls To Action

Wow, if you have no calls to action then you don’t have a business. I’m a great believer in the psychological triggers associated with buying behaviour. A simple large buy button, one click ordering or even an email form to harvest data is a must.

Copy

Having good solid copy is vital. Lots of businesses write copy based on the product, saying how great it is, what they’ve achieved and how it can enhance your life. We think you should write your copy to these guidelines…

Feature – What are the killer features? We only care about those that relate to customer.

Benefit – How will these features benefit the client.

Experience – An example of how this product has helped, made life simpler or revolutionised a client process. You need a real world example.

Simple Shipping Instructions

Companies spend thousands of pounds making things simple. Don’t have lots of complicated instructions, keep it basic. If you need a popup to establish trust, or explain a little more then do so. Complex shipping instructions can lead to high shopping cart abandonment, even if you take a hit… remember 85% of something is better than 100% of nothing.

Maximise Trust

When we say trust, we’re talking web-trust. How can a prospective client differentiate your business from a 16 years olds bedroom enterprise.

Simple accreditation’s are quick and easy, but make sure you use high resolution images. If you’re industry has them, make sure you do.

Testimonials are a powerful trust indicator.

You should try and anticipate any part of the process where a prospective client may need trust. If they fill in this email contact form, are they going to get spammed, will you sell their data. All such issues have simple resolutions, just look at other established e-commerce landing pages.

Hope this post was useful

 

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Content Strategy…. What Should I Write About

If you’re an established SEO or if you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll no doubt be aware that every website needs to satisfy the content freshness part of the Google algorithm. I say every site, but some business by their very nature already create reams of new content.

If you fall under this category, then congratulations! You’ll just need to make sure your new pages, products, video’s or documents are correctly indexed. The meta-data is up to specification and you’re not at the mercy of dynamic urls or pagination.

For the rest of us unlucky souls here at SEO Liverpool, we need to come up with ideas for a content strategy.

We hear this phrase rather a lot…

My business is so boring to most people outside our industry, no point in writing anything.

So what should you write about?

Firstly, stop thinking that people are going to read your content particularly your weekly blogs. The chances are, they won’t. At this stage you don’t need them too. What we’re saying is, you’re initially only trying to satisfy that part of the Google Algorithm.

Once you’ve an established readership, then you should worry more about what you’re writing.

Let your keywords do the talking.

e.g If your keyword research has thrown up the phrase ‘conveyor belting’ then you should write around that subject. It’s good for general SEO so you’ll be ticking more than one box.

This would seem like a difficult task, as surely everything that has ever been discussed, written or thought about could be placed on the 2 sheets of A4. This SEO agency Liverpool knows that you’d be wrong!

Firstly, their is nothing wrong with digging up bit’s of content that already contains the phrase. You can always re-write from a different perspective. You can always credit the original source. Why not write about certain machines that use the conveyor belts and their purpose.

Secondly,  Look for content that could become viral, or is at least important. Health and Safety laws, famous factory workers and top ten lists. These are generally your best bet for link-bait.

It’s important that you don’t devalue your brand, or say anything that is untrue or controversial but I encourage you to have fun with your blogs… you’ll get better traction.

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Three Classic Onsite Website SEO Mistakes

I’ve been contacted by a few companies in the last few months regarding our SEO basics posts. A common question we’ve heard centers around which SEO elements should they implement on-page (on the website)

It’s important to remember that you’re not trying to game the system. SEO and Google have the same goals. To get the top listings you just have to fulfill the criteria that Google uses to rank you… Google is very much customer focused. Build for the customers then you’ll build a site the search engines like.

Classic Website Mistakes

Number 1

Fresh content – I’ve stated this on many occasions but fresh content is a key-factor and a mainstay regarding the Google algorithm. This hasn’t changed and probably never will.

Why Google Likes It – The simplest indicator of a useful website is fresh content. Fresh content means the site and information is up to date and most importantly more than likely you’re still trading. This is done by the Google spiders revisiting the website.

e.g. You’re a HR company that has no fresh content or news on the website. Alternatively, you update the site with the latest HR information and proactively provide good content that adds to the readers experience.  Which version is Google going to want to refer? Google knows you’re still trading and most importantly you’re probably more relevant. The more the search engine spiders analyse a website, and you’ve added to it, the better you’ll rank.

Number 2

H1 Tags  – You should have a h1 tag on each page that gives a good description of the service you offer. Great for placing keywords but better for telling the customer what the page contains.

Why Google Likes It – Simply, it enables clear navigation and direction to customers. Search engine wise, it very clearly categorises each page and adds context to the meta data.

Number 3

Over optimisation of homepage text. You’ve seen those sites, lists of keywords that are hyper-linked to internal site pages. Their is no context to them. Most of the time, they’re not even written in constructive sentences, just placed in lists.

Why Google Hates It – Google not only looks at the keywords, and those that are linked, but it uses the text around to provide context. Lots of hyper-links and sitelinks is indicative of linkfarms and untrusted sites.

Personally, you shouldn’t optimise a homepage for more than three keywords.

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SEO Consultants Should Understand Conversions

This topic is in response to a question from an SEO Liverpool client who wants to know about Conversions.

It’s very important as an SEO consultant that you understand the final part of the optimisation puzzle. If you’re working towards the goal of just driving traffic to a website, then you’re not all the way their. The goal is to turn that traffic into conversions.

What is a conversion?A proportion of visitors to a website, take action to go beyond a casual content view or website visit, as a result of subtle or direct requests from marketers, advertisers, and content creators.

This meansThe person who lands on the website takes a desired action… or follows a set route you want them to travel.

Examples of Conversions

  • The analytics shows the user has travel a desired route, and looked at the information you wanted to show them
  • The user has phoned a number, or sent an email
  • The user has filled out a desired form
  • The user has downloaded a document
  • The user has watched a video
  • The user has bought a product or service

Why aren’t conversions all about getting work?Actually they are, but not all work arrives immediately or directly from a glance at a website.

Example…

I’m looking to build an extension onto my house. I know what I want, I’ve stumbled onto an appropriate website…

Firstly everybody is different… I might want to call you up and get a quote – I’ve immediately seen the phone number in the header – Job done.

I may wish to email you (also in the header) the project details… so you have a feel for the project and then you can call me (at a convenient time for me) to discuss once you’ve more of an understanding of my needs.

I may just want to make sure your business is the real deal… you could be anyone. Subconsciously I’m looking for trust… maybe accreditation’s or visuals that imply trust.

I want to know you’re not going to run off with my money and I want to see samples of your work… I find the case studies pages.

What do your clients say about you… I find a video testimonial.

Conclusions

These are all either conversion points or major factors that relate to conversions. If your website doesn’t have them, then SEO will never be complete. How can you offer SEO to a website that will not convert? It’s like directing everybody to a closed shop.

The goal of running an SEO agency or being a consultant, isn’t to be consistently finding new clients. The goal is to establish long-term relationships, get recommendations from your existing clients to other potentials. Anybody who doesn’t understand the power of this type of referral should get reading. The most difficult and arguably time consuming aspect of this type of work is when you need to justify the reasons why they need SEO and its benefits.  Why should anybody trust that you can deliver a project? Get your clients to do that for you!

How can you justify ROI if their is no ROI. Without proof of conversions, you’ll just make every potential client doubt the validity of your data sets and tarnish your reputation.

 

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Google Help – Keyword Research On For Existing Sites Part 2

The second part of our SEO Liverpool blog on existing site keyword research. Have a look at part 1 before you go ahead with information contained in this post.

Creating The Definitive Keyword List

Firstly, all keyword lists are working documents! Your keyword list will give you Google search data based on the previous months searches, but is that the everything? What if you’re business is effected by a seasonal uplift or worse a downshift. You need to be aware of error margins, not just the ‘exact’ versus ‘broad match’ search. I’m thinking more about the dreaded vanity searches (People checking their own results in Google and therefore compromising data).

Tip 1Basically, you should revisit this as a working document every quarter and more so if your products or services are seasonal.

Secondly, from the previous keyword list, drill deep, pick up all the keywords based around the services or brand (you won’t need them all but you should have data on them).

Thirdly, break the list up dependent on search volume and prioritise it – I like to colour code. You should then have a list with the following columns….

  • Keyword – Your selected keyword
  • Local, National or Worldwide Searches  – Local has a geo-specific element, e.g. Liverpool. National is Google.co.uk properties.
  • Related Page  -  Insert the actual page URL to which the keyword is appropriate e.g. www.mysite/Camera
  • Blogs – How many internal blogposts have you placed this keyword in?
  • Links – How many links have you built using this keyword as anchor text (the actual keyword as a link)?

Choose 3 main keywords for each page of your site and two ancillary (keywords that will generate revenue and competition isn’t that high). If you have more then you need create different pages to reflect them.

Note… if you have lots of great keywords with good volumes, you need to have pages that relate to the product. If you don’t, you should build more webpages. Keywords need to be naturally reflected in the content!

Working example.

www.mysite/Camera -

  • buying cameras,
  • cheap cameras,
  • expensive cameras.

www.mysite/Camera/Cannon - 

  • Cannon cameras,
  • cheap Cannon cameras,
  • expensive Cannon cameras.

www.mysite/Camera/Cannon/DX432 - 

  • Cannon dx432,
  • Cheap DX432 camera,
  • DX432 camera accessories.

If you sell this product, have just one page, but have search data for lots of keywords that would generate sales… build more pages and incorporate them!

Recap

We now have our keyword list – prioritised by search volume, competitiveness and colour coded. This is broken down by product/service and the URL of your related webpage. Once you have this list you can create a competitor analysis. You’ll be able to gauge exactly who you’re competing against and if you’re smart, evaluate why they’re in the top positions and how you can overtake… but that’s for another post.

 

 

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Keyword Research For Existing Sites Part 1

In response to a recent enquiry we had through our SEO Liverpool blog, today we’re looking at keyword research for existing websites.

Keyword research is arguably the most appropriate starting point for any search engine marketing consultant. We know that our Keywords direct the searcher to the website, therefore our primary aim is to create a list of keywords that a searcher would desire.

So how should we start to generate the list…

Identify The Websites Key-pages

We need to find the appropriate pages that a searcher would need to make a conversion or buy a product or service. Obviously the home page should always be treated as a key-page. I would always choose individual product pages and probably add a ‘convincer’ to that list e.g. testimonials, case-study or accreditation page.

Rough Keyword List

For each page, you should write a quick list of potential keywords. It’s always good practice to ask potential or existing customers, especially those with different persona’s. Remember it’s just a rough list based around the products or services and possibly locations so you may need to be clear on Geo-specifics e.g. SEO Liverpool, Search Engine Optimisation Manchester.

Different persona’s look like this e.g. If I was to buy a camera, I’d know the brand name and some basic features, a professional or hobbyist would know more technical information such as model numbers.

Quick tip -  As a starting point find a competitors website, that ranks number well for your product or service. View their page source from your browser tab. Look for the keyword meta tag, as this should give you ideas relating to your keywords. As in the previous post, the title tag will have the most sought after keywords (shown at the top of the browser once you’ve opened the website).

<meta name=”keywords” content=”Sony Camera, Sony 4567×4, professional Sony camera cheap” />

Check Keyword Popularity

For this you’ll need either your own keyword software such as ‘Wordtracker’ or use the ‘free Adwords keyword tool’ (just type this into Google)

For the purpose of this post we’ll look at the free Adwords Tool.

  1. Insert your draft keywords into the ‘Word or Phrase’ box
  2. Un-check the following boxes, ‘Only show idea’s closely related to my search terms’ (This will generate other keywords that will be useful)
  3. Un-check ‘Broad’ under the ‘Match Types’ on the left hand side column (Otherwise you’ll include keywords, in any order and with extras – this is a problem)
  4. Check the ‘Exact’ box (Only shows the exact keywords in that order)
  5. Click the ‘Keyword ideas’ tab

You’ll then generate a list by selecting each keyword, which you can download.

Notes. high search volume and low competition is good, high search and high competition not so good. Keyword volumes under the ‘Local Monthly Search’ look at Google UK, but if you enter a Geo-specific, you’re laser targeting.

From this list we can generate suggestions and you’ll have the ability to drill down to find a lot more keywords around your products and services.

Export the results, arrange them in priority for each specific key-page. You’ll then have a solid draft list.

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SEO Basics – Meta Tags

The importance of the Title tag.

Meta data is probably the first port of call for most new SEO’s. If you get it right, then you can see a large gain as far as your optimisation efforts are concerned. I’m sure everybody understands what a title tag is, but lets make sure.

Lets examine them in more detail…

Title Tag = <title>This is what it looks like</title>

So as we’ve already stated the tag is a very effective tool for SEO. Almost every Search Engine Optimisation Consultant will have a slightly different way of using it. So how can we see it? Well, it is usually visible at the top of each browser once a website is open.

The established Rules

1) 70 Characters – This is the generally accepted wisdom, the title tag should be no longer than 70 characters. Any longer can be detrimental

2) Important Keywords  – The first keyword you place in this tag will be considered most important – If you write any content, own a website or pick up a product off the shelf. The first word/s will generally set the tone. e.g. If the most important content of a website is written at the bottom, then it’s obviously not the most important, think headline! A search engine generally uses this as a rule with all content.

3) What It Should Say – Every single page of your website should have a different title tag and this should reflect the content within that specific page. So if you’ll probably want the name of page, business name and a keyword. As above place the keyword first, page second and the business name third.

e.g. The Main Keyword Here | The Page Contact Us | Business Name Goes Here

On a side note, the piping (|) is used so we don’t waste characters… unless the keyword/phrase you’ve previously researched calls for it.

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